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What you need to know about Gilas Pilipinas and the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup – ESPN

The 2022 FIBA Asia Cup starts on Tuesday in Jakarta, Indonesia, with 16 teams from Asia and Oceania competing. The event was originally scheduled for August 2021, but a COVID outbreak in Indonesia forced its postponement.
Gilas Pilipinas is in Group D along with Lebanon, India and New Zealand. The top team of the group advances directly to the quarterfinals, while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams will play in a one-game knockout qualification for the quarterfinals.
Here’s what you need to know about the tournament and what to expect from Gilas.
What exactly is the FIBA Asia Cup?
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this used to be the Asian tournament used for qualification to both the Olympics and the FIBA World Cup. It was once called the FIBA Asia Championship, and before that, the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championship. Until this edition, the tournament was held every two years.
China has won the tournament a record 16 times, while the Philippines has won it five times. However, the Philippines hasn’t won it since early 1986.x`
In 2016, FIBA reformatted the qualification for the World Cup and the Olympics and launched the continental qualifiers for the World Cup. The results of the World Cup, meanwhile, would determine qualification for the Olympics. The world body decided to retain its continental championship tournaments such as the FIBA Asia Cup, but with no slots in the World Cup or the Olympics at stake. Furthermore, the tournament cycle was moved to every four years beginning in 2017.
Another development happened in 2017 with the merging of the Asia and Oceania nations. As a result, Australia and New Zealand were welcomed to the Asia Cup that year with Australia winning it all.
So what’s at stake here?
Aside from continental bragging rights, participation in the FIBA Asia Cup is required in order to be able to participate in the World Cup Qualifiers. Also, for this particular edition, hosts Indonesia must make it to at least the quarterfinals to automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup where they are co-hosts. To do that, the hosts must beat either Jordan or Saudi Arabia in Group A and hope for the best in the pre-quarterfinal qualification, where they will likely face either Korea or Chinese Taipei.
What’s the Gilas game schedule?
The group stage games will be played on these dates and times (all times in PHT):
Gilas vs. Lebanon: Wednesday, July 13 at 9:00 p.m.
Gilas vs. India: Friday, July 15 at 4:00 p.m.
Gilas vs. New Zealand: Sunday, July 17 at 9:00 p.m.
What does the Gilas lineup look like?
On Sunday morning, Filipino hoops fans woke up to the news that Dwight Ramos, arguably Gilas’ best and most popular player, will miss the FIBA Asia Cup due to medial tibial stress syndrome, or shin splints. In a statement, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said that “Ramos has been dealing with pain in his left leg for the past week but it has become too much to overcome as he could not join the team for practice anymore.”
This is obviously a big blow for Gilas since the versatile Ramos brings so much to the table. In ten games for Gilas covering both the World Cup Qualifiers and the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, he has been averaging 14.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. In Gilas’ two tune-up games against Korea last month, he averaged 23.5 points. He’s the team’s best shooter and probably their best scorer, period. He’s sometimes the only Gilas player who never looks flustered no matter what’s being thrown at him.
Nonetheless, coach Chot Reyes must make do with the players available. The SBP was ultimately successful in getting Rhenz Abando into the lineup in lieu of Ramos, completing a 12-man Gilas lineup as follows:
Guards -Kiefer Ravena, Rhenz Abando, Ray Parks, SJ Belangel and RJ Abarrientos
Wings – Thirdy Ravena, Will Navarro and Francis Lopez
Bigs – Poy Erram, Geo Chiu, Kevin Quiambao and Carl Tamayo
On paper, this team is slightly stronger than the one that played India and New Zealand last week. The additions of TNT Tropang Giga center Poy Erram and Japan B.League veteran Ray Parks, both of whom have played at the FIBA Asia level, gives them more experience. Thirdy’s return also adds more size and firepower to the wing rotation.
But it’s just difficult to look past the loss of Ramos, whose playmaking, shooting and versatility will be tough to overcome. Parks and Thirdy will surely pick up some of the slack, Parks with the playmaking and Thirdy with the scoring, but Gilas will need more from Navarro and Lopez.
Who about the other teams in Group D?
Two teams here are recent Gilas opponents. India will field practically the same lineup they sent to Manila for the Asian Qualifiers last week. New Zealand retained only four from the team that plastered Gilas by 46 in Auckland. Two youngsters are among the new faces: 6-foot-5, 21-year-old Max Darling and 6-8, 20-year-old Sam Mennenga. The Tall Blacks are likely using the FIBA Asia Cup to test their upcoming stars and are fielding a relatively young lineup with an average age of 23.
As for Lebanon, it would have been great to see ageless Fadi El-Khatib one last time, but alas, the legend will not play in Jakarta. However, Lebanon has a tall, veteran team with an average height of 6-5 and average age of 26. They also have a naturalized player in 6-9 Jonathan Arledge, a veteran of the European leagues who suited up for George Mason and Old Dominion in the US NCAA Division 1.

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